A couple weeks ago, I opened the door from the cool outside to find myself in a warm and inviting dining room. We had driven for just a little while – an adventure of sorts – to visit the Inn On The Lake in Enfeild. The Inn itself is lovely; clean, cozy and well kept, but the dining was what we were after, so we settled in at a table directly in front of the fireplace and awaited our first course. The Inn often offers special ‘Chef Series’ set menus, and this one was part of their Fall Wine Festival menu. Consisting of 3 courses with wine pairings, an amuse bouche and a palate cleanser, it was quite the treat to indulge in for a mere $75 ($55 without wine).
To start, our server brought out the amuse bouche; a pile of supple smoked salmon atop a rich dollop of cream cheese. The condiments offered on the side provided two distinct tastes for the diner to indulge in; a sweet caramelized onion jam that paired beautifully with the lush cheese, and a dill oil, whose traditional pairing with salmon was quite appropriate.
Smoked Salmon atop Cream Cheese
served on pumpernickel round accompanied by a sweet onion
jam and a drizzle of fresh dill oil
Rose – Jost
Our palates sufficiently ‘amused’ at this point, we were served the first course; a tender piece of lightly crusted halibut supported on a delightful bed of golden beats and fennel. As a big fan of both these vegetables I was already pleased, however, I’m always happy to see a chef deviating from the traditional potato base. I don’t often use this description, but in the halibut’s case, it was perfectly cooked. The vegetables beneath were flavourful and tender, and provided just the right about of tang and bite to cut through the smooth, buttery Chardonnay cream sauce.
Porcini Mushroom and Halibut
porcini crusted halibut with braised fennel, golden beets
and thyme with chardonnay cream sauce
Habitant Blanc – Jost
And then came one of my favourite elements to a fine dining meal – the palate cleanser. I’ve had some phenomenal flavour combinations of sorbet before, and lime sorbet is a favourite of mine, but this particular sorbet has raised the bar for others after. The lime flavour here was at once intense, but subtle and the tequila gave it an extra bite that certainly assisted with the ‘palate cleansing’ feeling.
with a drizzle of Tequila
With a fresh outlook on what was to come, the server placed two dishes of decadence in front of us – one was dessert, but more on that later… The entrée was a collection of indulgent ingredients that came together to create a lovely well balanced wash of flavours and textures. The sensations that this dish set off in my mouth were unreal, and…at times, slightly indecent!
A beautiful piece of AAA Tenderloin (cooked rare) was tender and juicy; its flesh having that shiver-inducing type of texture. Crowing the meat was a piece of plump, rich fois gras that had somewhat of a ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ effect. These two components, alone, would have been enough to make me sigh with contentment, but it went on…The meats were served on a pile of young veg, and on top were two contrasting sauces; a creamy blue cheese and red wine reduction.
AAA Beef Tenderloin & Foie Gras
pan roasted beef tenderloin with seared foie gras, drizzled with blue cheese & red wine reduction with cipollini onions, asparagus and fingerling potatoes
Baco Noir – Jost
The dessert plate was a study in chocolate. Three incredible, and incredibly distinctive desserts were served, each more seductive than the last.
Vitis – Gasperau Vineyards
I went from right to left, tasting first the warm, comforting chocolate chip and banana bread pudding. This was the definition of dessert comfort food – right up there with ginger bread and apple pie. With a dense crumb and the hint of banana, this pudding was the perfect vehicle to showcase its classic flavour pairing.
Dark Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding
Next came the chocolate and pistachio nut pate with mocha sauce. Talk about rich! Any dish that showcases pistachios is good in my books! The pate was thick in the mouth, with the nuttiness being right in the foreground. The mocha sauce’s slight bitter edge from the coffee cut right through the pate’s cloying capabilities and added depth to the dessert.
Chocolate and Pistachio Nut Pate
w/ Mocha Sauce
Once the austere shield of the creme brulee was cracked, it revealed a softer character within. The chocolate cream was – quite possibly – one of the most pleasurable tastes and textures to ever cross my palate; smooth, rich and creamy, it was all the things that fine chocolate should be, and induced the heart-warming, pulse-quickening effects as well.
Chocolate Crème Brulee
This particular menu was part of the Fall Chef series, but diners should not lose heart, the Inn On The Lake is also offering a Festive Season Table d’Hote, in which the Chocolate Trilogy is also a part. At $29.95 for two courses, and $39.95 for three, diners can enjoy a lucious meal in a setting that feels like home…or an inn that feels like it!